Washington, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today held a hearing with Dr. Henry Kissinger on the role of modern-day strategic arms control and the New START Treaty. Dr. Kissinger has played a vital role in American arms control efforts and continues to shape public discourse on nuclear strategy. He successfully negotiated SALT I, the first agreement between the U.S. and Soviet Union to limit nuclear weapons.
During the hearing, Dr. Kissinger called on the Senate to ratify the New START Treaty. Following are excerpts from his testimony:
In deciding on ratification, the concerns need to be measured against the consequences of non-ratification, particularly interrupting a [bilateral arms control] process that has been going on for decades, the relationship to the NPT, and to the attempt to achieve a strategic coherence. And so, for all these reasons, I recommend ratification of this treaty…
In short, this committee's decision will affect the prospects for peace for a decade or more. It is, by definition, not a bipartisan, but a nonpartisan, challenge.
This START treaty is an evolution of treaties that have been negotiated in previous administrations of both parties. And its principal provisions are an elaboration or a continuation of existing agreements. Therefore, a rejection of them would indicate that a new period of American policy had started that might rely largely on the unilateral reliance of its nuclear weapons, and would therefore create an element of uncertainty in the calculations of both adversaries and allies. And therefore, I think it would have an unsettling impact on the international environment.
On Missile Defense and Modernization
Concerns have been raised with respect to missile defense and with respect to [nuclear] modernization. I agree with the Chairman. I do not believe this treaty is an obstacle to a missile defense program or modernization. Those are decisions that the United States can and should take as part of its own strategic design.
[N]onproliferation has to be a central American objective…. And the ability to achieve its objectives depends on the credibility of the government. It would be more difficult for us to achieve the objectives that, again, have been proclaimed on a bipartisan basis for many decades [if the United States did not ratify the treaty].
On the National Interest
[I]t should be noted I come from the hawkish side of this debate, so I'm not here advocating these measures in the abstract. I try to build them into my perception of the national interest. … I've read all the previous testimony, and I think the spirit of this discussion has been nonpartisan, really, not just bipartisan.
I agree that the verification provisions of this treaty, even if they are somewhat modified from the previous one, are extremely important for this relationship.